Back in the 1980s, a quarter of my income was derived from sandblasting window and door designs. The current owner of the glass shown above, Katie Pemble, was kind enough to allow a photo session of my very first door. For a number of years after this door, I had steady glass work, all by word-of-mouth.
|Kemerer Museum | Bethlehem, Pennsylvania|
Eventually I started working with flashed glass — I was inspired by beautiful pieces like this Bohemian presentation cup that I saw on a visit to the Kemerer Museum in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Here's one of my own designs on flashed glass, a piece I call The Pointer. Below is what the same pane of glass looks like if viewed from the side:
Flashed glass is usually clear glass with another color "flashed" onto it in the glassblowing process. Using a frisket, the design is sandblasted away to reveal clear (and at that point, frosted) glass. Notice in my cross section that the orange is a little thicker on the bottom, or right-hand side. That makes the color a little deeper, and in fact The Pointer glass is a gradient of color.
Because certain colors of glass (like red) were so expensive, flashed glass was developed to save money. The flashed glass appears as rich to the eye as if it were a solid pane of color, and so the price of colored glass could be greatly reduced. Ironically, flashed glass is rare today, and more expensive than solid colored glass.
This stained glass Christmas cover for the Floridian magazine was a collaboration between Geri Willingham and I. The magazine's logo is etched out of the glass and Geri included clear marbles as bubbles. Sadly, this glass image didn't print well because the photo editors, who had lots of fancy new equipment, could not believe that natural sunlight is still the most effective way to photograph stained glass.
In a moment of great serendipity, my brother and I came across a full door of pressed glass, a detail of which is shown here. I don't know how old it is, but it's what would have been used at one time as an office door. The pattern looks like an M. C. Escher design, doesn't it?
Each of the border's flashed glass flowers represents an aspect of my own life. The flower above is a Florida orange blossom.
Today I sandblast small pieces of glass for my own pleasure. Sandblasting glass is not without its hazards. As the sand hits the glass, it creates a dust of glass (silica) so fine that the glass can be ingested through skin pores. Needless to say, every inch of my body was always carefully covered, and I always wore goggles and a respirator. All that layering and the humid Florida weather would cause my goggles to eventually fog up, so I relied on my brother to sight where frisketed areas needed additional sandblasting. For that reason, all of my sandblasting has certainly been a collaborative effort.